The Self-Settling Myth

1 comment

There are many contentious issues on parenting websites. Right up there with the grand breastfeeding vs. formula debate is sleep, and more specifically, sleep training.

I’ve talked about my problem with certain methods of sleep training before, so I won’t rehash things. In the grand scheme of things I am quite moderately middle, possibly leaning towards crunchy (if you don’t know what that means, you don’t want or need to know).

One thing that both sides of the great sleep debate seem to have in common, however, is the agreement that once a child can “self settle”, your life will become easier. They will start to wake less often, sleep through the night, etc.

Isabel has been capable of self-settling since about 12 months old. That is, she can and will roll over and go to sleep without nursing (my usual put-baby-to-sleep method). She had to do it when she started nursery and this had a gradual knock-on effect on night time sleeps. The problem is that, as with most things ‘baby’, Isabel didn’t read the manual. She doesn’t “wake less often”, and certainly doesn’t “sleep through the night”.

Generally, this is not a problem. Breastfeeding contains natural tranquillisers which knock baby out, and releases oxytocin which puts mum to sleep. Win win situation. However, when Isabel is insistent on “self-settling”, I am left awake (because I inevitably feel or hear her stir), with no oxytocin, and the job of putting myself back to sleep. Instead of a 2-minute sleepy nurse, I have a 20 minute fidget until I finally fall asleep out of boredom.

This supposed glorious learned independence is nothing but a pain in the arse if you ask me.

Posted in Parenting

One comment so far

  1. Stephanie said:
    On April 14, 2011 at 4:15 am

    When it comes to any kind of biological system, every person is a little different. So if you’re someone like me who can clunk down to sleep while there are circ saws running outside your room, then self-settling would be awesome. :P

    I hope that you get used to all this soon! And I think that you daughter loves you!